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Fairest of them all! South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi is now Miss Universe

Readers Lounge By The Standard
Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, who was crowned Miss Universe at Tyler Perry Studios over the weekend, in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo: Reuters)

"I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered beautiful.

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"I think that it is time that that stops today."

That's the message from newly-crowned Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, a South African.

More than 90 women from around the world took part in the pageant in Atlanta, USA on Sunday.

Kenya was represented by Stacy Michuki, 18, a granddaughter of former Environment Cabinet Minister John Michuki (deceased). She was crowned Miss Universe Kenya 2019 on October 20.

Zozibini beat Puerto Rico's Madison Anderson and Mexico's Sofia Aragon in the final three to take the tiara.

Finalists in the competition were asked a range of questions on topics such as climate change, protest and social media.

Tunzi trounced 90 contestants to be crowned Miss Universe 2019 (Photo: Reuters)

Teaching young girl

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In her final question, 26-year-old Zozibini was asked what young girls should be taught today.

Her answer was: "Leadership".

"It's something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time - not because we don't want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be," she said.

"I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity.

"And that is what we should be teaching these young girls - to take up space."

Zozibini is the first black woman to win the competition since Leila Lopes in 2011.

The Angolan former winner congratulated her in a post on Instagram, writing: "Congrats girl you did us very proud."

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Reflecting on her win, Zozibini wrote: "Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it.

"May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine.

"I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!"

Zozibini is the first black woman to win the competition since Angola's Leila Lopes in 2011 (Reuters)

The hashtag #MissUniverse was trending on Twitter and she even got a shout-out from Oprah Winfrey.

Several people highlighted the importance of a black woman with natural hair winning a beauty pageant. Zozibini, who won Miss South Africa in August, is described by Miss Universe as "a proud advocate for natural beauty."

She was also described as "a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender based violence".

"She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes."

Although her exact prizes are not revealed by Miss Universe, Zozibini is expected to have won a year's stay rent-free in an apartment in New York - and a salary worth around $100,000 (Sh10,171,038).

She will also fly around the world for media and modelling opportunities.

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